Ross Perot, who died Tuesday at age 89, shook up American politics in the 1990s as a third-party candidate in two presidential elections. In Massachusetts, Perot (Obituary, C9) spoke at rallies and other events many times, displaying his wit and pointed speaking style. Here are some highlights:
Boston Common, June 20, 1992: Perot, campaigning for the first time in Boston, appealed to supporters to “stay in the ring, shoulder to shoulder, with me” in his fight against established political powers in Washington. A crowd of several thousand, including a few hecklers, attended the Perot rally after hundreds of his followers trooped past the graves of Revolutionary War patriots on Tremont Street in an afternoon parade. Responding to criticism that he is trying to “buy the election,” the wealthy Dallas entrepreneur said, “That’s right! I’m trying to do it for the people; they can’t afford it.” He called for the creation of “more jobs than workers” and a greater sense of unity, and he invoked the motto of Alexandre Dumas’s Three Musketeers — “One for all and all for one” — while advocating a spirit of volunteerism. With that approach, he said, “Nobody will beat us anywhere.”
UMass Amherst, June 12, 1993: In a rally to drum up support for his citizens’ group United We Stand, Perot denounced the pending trade agreement known as NAFTA, which he said would send thousands of jobs to Mexico. He drew loud cheers when he proposed what he called “a job stimulus package for Congress and foreign lobbyists,” saying “we’re going to buy each one of them a bus ticket to Mexico and let them go to work for 58 cents an hour.” Perot said his supporters were having a major impact in Washington. “Nobody ever talked about the debt and the deficit until you came along,” he said. “Boy, did they get the message in Washington. They are like ants on a hot skillet when they think of you.”
Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, May 16, 1994: Perot lashed out at President Clinton’s health care plan, saying it contained the “ultimate hidden tax on the American consumer in the form of its mandate that employers provide benefits. “We have people in Washington who honestly think money falls out of the sky,” Perot spoke to about 700 students, faculty and supporters. “If you increase the price of the product, who buys the product? Ordinary Americans. So who pays the tax? . . . Washington loves to offer us free candy.” he said. “But watch my lips: There is no free candy. You will pay for it with interest.”
Commencement at Boston University, May 22, 1994: “We are coming out of the Me Generation and I hope into the We Generation. Our generation has dug a deep hole for you to fill. . . . Be a giver, not a taker. Create opportunities for other people — that’s the story of my career.”Jeremiah Manion of the Globe staff contributed to this report.